Saudi organization MiSK partners with UNDP, Bloomberg for youth and business forums in NY

Growing number of private sector-hosted events surrounding the opening of the United Nations General Assembly — known as Global Goals Week this year are taking place. In addition to MiSK, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Skoll Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum are all hosting forums within a few days of each other next week.

Irshad Salim — Saudi Arabia’s MiSK Foundation partnered  with the United Nations Development Program and held a youth forum on tolerance in New York city on Friday– part of global outreach strategy, said Nada Al Tuwaijri, MiSK’s global spokesperson. MiSK is undertaking a strategy of going from “local to global,” she said report Devex.

MiSK-UNDP Youth Forum in NYC

MISK is also partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies for an all day event on Sept 20 called the Global Business Forum– its partners also include Dangote Industries, Alibaba Group, EXOR and Mahindra Group.

“We will have a lot of CEOs and top executives meeting to discuss economic themes in the Arab region and it will be a really important business, economic dialogue,” she said. “There will be a lot of ambassadors, and with a focus on the Arab region when it comes to economy, we want to show that we are all aligned.”

The one-day youth event on Friday was attended by prominent figures from all over the world, and aimed to reaffirm the vital youth role in fighting extremism and terrorism and achieving positive change in today’s world.

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner speaks with Youth moderator Ilwad Elman.

Economic development is a key factor in deterring young people in the Middle East and elsewhere from becoming involved in violent extremism, the gathering of world leaders heard who also spoke about the importance of governmental roles in supporting young people and executing their ideas.

Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, told the forum that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy aligned with the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He highlighted the role of young women in the transformation. “Saudi women comprise 60 percent of the college population in Saudi Arabia, and they are going to come to the workforce and make a dramatic difference,” Al-Mouallimi said.

Key speakers included Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City; Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State of the United States; Dr. Deepak Chopra, an expert in the field of health and wellbeing; Achim Steiner, administrator of UNDP; and Mourad Wahba, UN Assistant Secretary-General.

A panel moderated by former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw and featuring former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright focused on the information revolution.

“New threats are emerging. The world will be shaped increasingly by industriousness, creativity, entrepreneurship and diversity,” Bloomberg said. Young people have a growing responsibility to respond to the political and environmental challenges that continue to threaten the world, but they will get new sources of support as the world’s cities grow in population and strength, Bloomberg added.

The media entrepreneur and former mayor of New York, said that he was in partnership with MiSK to train young citizens in economics and finance. He said that the growing number of young people who live in cities, both in the Middle East and the rest of the world, would help promote tolerance and peace.

“Some people call them the millennial generation, but I’d rather refer to them as the metropolitan generation. Now 50 percent of the world’s population live in cities, and nothing has done more than cities to spread tolerance and peace in the world. Cities also encourage innovation and sustainable development,” he added.

Commenting ahead of the forum, Bader Al Asaker, Secretary-General of the MiSK Foundation, said that “Our aim with this event is to shine a light on the transformative power of youth, to lift them up and provide a platform for young people to contribute to positive change in the world.”

MiSK is a philanthropic foundation founded by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP, said: “Today’s generation of youth is the largest in history, and 90% of them live in developing countries. For these young people, the Sustainable Development Goals are not merely goals. For them, achieving the SDGs means the possibility of attending school, having access to healthcare, participating in their civic and political discourse, and living free from conflict. It means having hope and prosperity for their future.”

The MiSK-UN event, which was attended by more than 400 people from 60 countries, coincided with the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

A panel moderated by former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and featuring former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright focused on the information revolution and what she called the “disaggregation” of news. Albright advised the young audience to be skeptical about the information they encounter, especially on social media.

Two other panels discussed the challenges faced by refugees around the world and how best to counter violent extremists. Panelists on the latter panel stressed the importance of engaging with youth and offering them a sense of hope and purpose.

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